Why did you begin farming?
To learn how to grow my own food and share that skill with others.
Have you always been an ecofarmer, or did you make a change?
Yes, I’ve always been an ecofarmer since I started farming.
What was the biggest hurdle you have overcome?
Accessing quality farmland and water.
What do you enjoy most about farming?
That’s hard; there are so many things, I don’t like to play favorites. The thing I enjoy most about farming is growing seed to seed, seeing plant crops live out their full life cycles. In other words, seed saving.
What is your biggest current challenge?
Having land security. We’re faced with potentially losing access to a portion of our land.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received about farming?
Sell your crops before you grow them.
What learning opportunities have helped you become a better farmer?
The EcoFarm Conference. Beyond that, a permaculture design course, which was a two-week intensive course put on by OAEC. At the AgPark we consult with Jim Leap; he’s been a farmer mentor. I also learn from other farmers and farming peers that I’ve known; Ryan Casey, the folks at Fifth Crow farms, Theresa and Mike. I also learn from observing how nature does it, in the forest or in wild lands and try to see which systems make sense to try to mimic — would those systems work as farming systems?
Feral Heart Farm
Sunol AgPark, Sunol California
Farmer: Aaron Dinwoodie
Farm size: 1 acre
Year established: 2014
Number of years farming? 11
Years reading Acres U.S.A.? 4
Products: Mixed vegetables
Certifications: Almost certified organic; it’s in the pipeline now and should be finalized very shortly. We are being certified by CCOF.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-722-1564; www.facebook.com/feralheartfarm
What do you see in store for the future of sustainable farming?
I see an emphasis on creating a bioregional seed stock through a cooperative or some other collaborative venture to create bioregionally adapted seeds for drought resistance, etc., and more attention toward building soil as a means of building fertility. I see that farms will need to be more integrated with all of the aspects that make them sustainable. For example, I have a vegetable farm with row crops. I don’t think it’s completely sustainable, because we input seeds and compost. A wholly sustainable farm would include livestock and orchards (perennial crops). Those are the things that represent the direction that sustainable farms should take.
This article appears in the October 2015 issue of Acres U.S.A.